Digging For Golden Nuggets at The Atlantic Club
tagged: atlantic club golden nugget steve wynn roger thomas joel bergman comments: 5
In recent years, the property originally known as the Golden Nugget has a succession of names - the long standing Atlantic City Hilton, shortened to ACH after losing the Hilton franchise before settling on the Atlantic Club earlier this year. While the names have changed, the casino has been re-arranged and the hotel rooms renovated, what still remains is a whole host of the original Golden Nugget interior design from 1980. These spaces foreshadow many of the spectacular features of future Wynn creations including The Mirage, Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas.
The Golden Nugget Atlantic City was conceived by Steve Wynn with Joel Bergman serving as in-house architect and Roger Thomas as interior designer. The property cost approximately $160 million to build, most of which was financed by high interest junk bonds floated by Michael Milken. The property opened in December 1980 to rousing reception and roaring receipts. Seven years later, ten years after incorporating in the Garden State, Steve Wynn sold the Golden Nugget in response to a long standing regulatory huff with New Jersey Casino Control Commission regulators. He continued to hold land in Renaissance Point for Le Jardin until Mirage Resorts was acquired by MGM in 2000.
Some thirty two years later, a walk through the Atlantic Club is the closest you'll ever get to time traveling back inside Steve Wynn's taste in the late 70's, sometimes frighteningly so.
This escalator leads from the parking garage to the lobby level. This "garden" is the landing strip from which The Conservatory came. Now it is filled with dust covered plastic plants, bamboo with price tags on it and the occasional extension cord.
The reception desk a virtual carbon copy of Las Vegas and Laughlin's. Note the detailed yet elementary - by later Wynn standards - ceiling trim and recessed chandeliers.
The GNAC's retail "esplanade" - all fifty yards of it. Lots of natural light, mirrored walls, coffered ceilings. It is amazing how the glass walls are reminiscent of the recent open walled renovation to Wynn's Tower Suites. Sorry for the blurry photo.
Right off the reception lobby is the VIP services area. It is difficult to tell how much of this is original, one would assume that most, if not all of the soft goods - upholstery, plants and drapery - have been replaced, but miraculously they still retain that Roger Thomas feel.
Elevator landings... so Wynn. From the gold plated way finding signs to the purely Roger Thomas chandeliers to the ceiling woodwork to the arches above the elevators.
The valet and bell captain desks. You need not head to the bowels of a hotel parking garage to retrieve your wheels, a novel idea.
I found these phone banks to be quite amusing. The diamond lattice pattern of the mirrors is typically Wynn.
It is a shock that these phone banks are still here, and a bunch of them have pay phones in them. The tropical design inlay foreshadows similar designs that are at the Mirage.
Of particular architectural note is the gigantic two story arched windows, which spill natural light from the beach inside - a true rarity for any casino in 1980.
I'm not sure how old the Dolphin Bar is. Steve Wynn has long had a thing for Dolphins, hence his insistence of having a dolphin habitat at Mirage where he would often swim with them during difficult periods of Mirage Resorts' history. These slot machines are about twenty yards from the boardwalk, the closest that any casino comes to spilling their games out onto the midway.
At the opposite end of the Dolphin Bar is a very majestic casino entrance - a mirrored archway with a somewhat undersized yet incredibly glamorous chandelier set in mirrored dome surrounded by a typically coffered ceiling.
The main casino pit features a number of ceiling alcoves inspired by the Tropicana Las Vegas famed Tiffany glass ceiling, but instead covered in gold plated tiling and ornate spines and fixtures. These architectural features still outline the flow of the casino floor to this day.
The chandeliers are truly amazing pieces of crystal light sculpture. There are also an amazing set of chandeliers and sconces in the Baccarat room which will look incredibly familiar to anyone who has spent any time whatsoever with their eyes open inside of Encore's casino.
Yes folks, there is gold in them thar hills. Big honkin' golden nuggets of the original Golden Nugget. Get them while you can, as they might not be long for this world.
Side note... I'd like to thank ACT superfriend middleclassbuzz and my long suffering wife for exhibiting extreme patience as I geeked out on this shit like an obsessed teenager.
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